The story of the day as Sunderland seal a play-off place and end their winless run at Plymouth Argyle
Sunderland head to Plymouth Argyle this afternoon looking to end their seven-game winless run in League One.
The Black Cats’ defeat at Blackpool on Tuesday evening was another blow as the side look to build-up some momentum ahead of a potential play-off tilt.
Indeed, victory today could secure a top six spot for Sunderland while even other results could see their spot in the play-offs mathematically secured.
And Lee Johnson could be able to call upon the returning Conor McLaughlin as he looks to shore-up a defence that have shipped six goals in their last three games.
There could be changes at the other end too, with Johnson set to make big calls on the likes of Jordan Jones in the forward areas.
And our team of writers will be bringing you a stream of team news, updates, analysis and reaction from Home Park as the Wearsiders look to return to winning ways.
FT: Plymouth Argyle 1-3 Sunderland AFC (Edwards 63; Stewart 21, Maguire 84, Hume 90)
Last updated: Saturday, 01 May, 2021, 14:08
- Sunderland head to Plymouth Argyle looking to end their seven-game winless run
- Victory at Home Park would secure a play-off spot for the Black Cats
- Lee Johnson could welcome Conor McLaughlin back into the fold after a period on the sidelines
- SAFC XI: Burge; McLaughlin, Wright, O’Nien, Hume; Power, Scowen; Jones, Diamond, Gooch; Stewart
And welcome to our live blog!
Sunderland are on the road as they head to Plymouth Argyle - looking to end their seven-game winless run in League One.
Lee Johnson’s side suffered defeat to Blackpool in midweek but still remain in control of their own destiny, and could secure a play-off place with victory today.
And the Black Cats could be bolstered by the return of Conor McLaughlin to their ranks after he stepped-up his recovery from a hernia operation.
We’ll be providing team news, updates, analysis and more throughout the day - so let’s get cracking...
Here’s how League One looks ahead of kick-off...
Sunderland remain in the play-off places ahead of kick-off in today’s game, while Peterborough United could clinch automatic promotion if they beat Lincoln City.
Here’s the rest of the fixtures in League One today:
- AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth
- Accrington Stanley v Charlton Athletic
- Bristol Rovers v Crewe Alexandra
- Burton Albion v Gillingham
- Fleetwood Town v MK Dons
- Hull City v Wigan Athletic
- Northampton Town v Blackpool
- Peterborough United v Lincoln City
- Rochdale v Doncaster Rovers
- Shrewsbury Town v Oxford United
- Swindon Town v Ipswich Town
All games are 3pm kick-offs.
Lee Johnson has delivered his verdict on Plymouth Argyle
The Pilgrims beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light earlier this year, and head coach Johnson knows that they will deliver a stern test this afternoon.
I really like them, they’re a good side,” he said.
I thought we played well against them earlier in the season and deserved to win, but it showed the quality they’ve got, individuals who can cause you problems.
They’ve got an energetic, mobile midfield as well.
At the moment they’re not on form but neither are we, so it’s one where both teams will be looking at it and thinking they can win it.
The latest transfer rumours and news from Sunderland AFC
Ahead of kick-off, we take a look at the latest transfer talk from around the Stadium of Light...
- Sundderland have been linked with a summer move for Crewe Alexandra forward OWEN DALE. The 22-year-old has scored 12 goals already this term and is also thought to be on the radars of Preston, Blackburn and Ipswich.
- Stopper LEE BURGE is reportedly a summer target for Middlesbrough. Named in the League One team of the year earlier this week, Burge is the second Sunderland man to be linked with Boro - after Charlie Wyke.
Some interesting pre-match views from Ryan Lowe...
The Plymouth Argyle boss says he doesn’t envy the situation Lee Johnson currenlty finds himself in.
Read his full pre-match thoughts here:
'I'd rather be in my shoes!': Ryan Lowe issues his Sunderland verdict ahead of Plymouth Argyle clash
Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe says he doesn’t envy the position Sunderland’s Lee Johnson finds himself in – as the Pilgrims look to pile further pressure upon the Black Cats.
Lee Johnson is facing some major selection decisions today
But what are the main decisions being weighed-up by the Sunderland boss? We take a look:
- JORDAN JONES - The Rangers loanee hasn’t started since the 2-2 draw at Hull City, with Lynden Gooch having been preferred on the flanks alongside Aiden McGeady. But with Sunderland lacking a bit of attacking spark on Tuesday evening, could it be time for Jones to re-enter the fray?
- DENVER HUME - Hume has impressed since returning to the team, but his minutes may need to be carefully managed ahead of a potential play-off campaign. It could be that we see Hume handed a rest over the course of the next week with the long-term in mind, meaning Callum McFadzean could be in line for a return.
- CONOR McLAUGHLIN - The Northern Irish international could hand Lee Johnson a welcome boost if he is indeed fit to return to the squad today, but Johnson will have to decide whether to throw him in from the start.
What are the odds for Plymouth Argyle for Sunderland AFC?
Here’s the latest odds for today’s game, courtesy of League One title sponsors Sky Bet:
- Plymouth Argyle - 9/2
- Draw - 3/1
- Sunderland - 11/20
And here’s who the bookies are backing to find the net first at Home Park:
- Charlie Wyke - 12/5
- Aiden O’Brien - 9/2
- Chris Maguire - 9/2
- Jordan Jones - 9/2
- Ross Stewart - 9/2
- Jack Diamond - 11/2
- Luke Jephcott - 11/2
- Niall Ennis - 8/1
The latest team news from Sunderland and Plymouth Argyle
Here’s how both squads are shaping-up ahead of the game:
The Black Cats could welcome Conor McLaughlin back into the squad for the trip to Home Park, which could bolster Lee Johnson’s defensive options.
Jake Vokins, who played 45 minutes for the club’s under-23 side on Monday, is also nearing a return while there are hopes that Tom Flanagan could be back in time for the play-offs should Sunderland qualify.
Jordan Willis and Arbenit Xhemajli are longer-term absentees.
Midfielder Conor Grant trained with the Pilgrims this week and could be available for selection this afternoon.
Liverpool loanee Adam Lewis and defender Sam Woods are set to miss out though.
Is there a live stream for Plymouth Argyle v Sunderland AFC?
Yes, there is a live stream for today’s game.
You can watch all the action on SAFC.com, with streaming passes available for £10.
A reminder of how Sunderland can qualify for the play-offs today...
Here’s what needs to happen if other games if Sunderland are to seal their top six place this afternoon:
- SUNDERLAND WIN - That’s it! Other results are irrelevant if the Black Cats win.
- SUNDERLAND DRAW - If it’s honours even at Home Park, then Sunderland can still secure a top six finish if both Portsmouth and Oxford drop points OR if Charlton lose and one of Portsmouth and Oxford drop points.
- SUNDERLAND LOSE - Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to this, but Sunderland can seal a play-off spot even if they lose provided that both Oxford and Portsmouth also lose.
Could this be the Sunderland team that starts today?
Our man Mark Donnelly has picked his team to face Plymouth Argyle - and wants to see THREE changes made...
45 minutes until team news...
How are we all feeling ahead of kick-off, then?
There’s no hiding from the fact that today is a big game for Sunderland - not only to seal a play-off spot, but to ensure they go into the end of season tournament with at least some momentum behind them.
It’ll be interesting to see what team Lee Johnson selects today. Will he revert to his favoured 4-3-3? Could we see some changes made with one eye on the play-offs? Or will that wait until next week?
There’ll be plenty to digest come 2pm, I’m sure!
Sunderland have arrived at Plymouth Argyle!
And there are a couple of youngsters in the travelling squad - with Anthony Patterson and Oliver Younger both having made the journey to the South West.
It also looks as if Conor McLaughlin has indeed travelled.
BREAKING: THE TEAM NEWS IS IN!
And here’s how Sunderland line-up this afternoon: Burge; McLaughlin, Wright, O’Nien, Hume; Power, Scowen; Jones, Diamond, Gooch; Stewart
And on the bench: Maguire, O’Brien , Matthews, Leadbitter, McFadzean, Winchester, Younger
So where to start, eh?
No Charlie Wyke OR Aiden McGeady in the Sunderland team today as both miss out with niggles. McGeady has travelled to Plymouth, so here’s hoping the injury is nothing serious.
In brighter news, there’s a welcome return for Conor McLaughlin and Max Power pushes up into midfield.
Some fresh details on Wyke and McGeady’s absences...
We now know that Wyke is missing with a thigh problem, while McGeady is absent due to a broken nose and the foot swelling that ruled him out at Hull City.
Hopefully it’s nothing too long-term for either of the pair.